Soci, a startup focused on what it calls “localized marketing,” is announcing that it has raised $80 million in Series D funding.
National and global companies like Ace Hardware, Anytime Fitness, The Hertz Corporation and Nekter Juice Bar use Soci (pronounced soh-shee) to coordinate individual stores as they promote themselves through search, social media, review platforms and ad campaigns. Soci said that in 2020, it brought on more than 100 new customers, representing nearly 30,000 new locations.
Co-founder and CEO Afif Khoury told me that the pandemic was a crucial moment for the platform, with so many businesses “scrambling to find a real solution to connect with local audiences.”
One of the key advantages to Soci’s approach, Khoury said, is to allow the national marketing team to share content and assets so that each location stays true to the “national corporate personality,” while also allowing each location to express a “local personality.” During the pandemic, businesses could share basic information about “who’s open, who’s not” while also “commiserating and expressing the humanity that’s often missing element from marketing nationally.”
“The result there was businesses that had to close, when they had their grand reopenings, people wanted to support that business,” he said. “It created a sort of bond that hopefully lasts forever.”
Khoury also emphasized that Soci has built a comprehensive platform that businesses can use to manage all their localized marketing, because “nobody wants to have seven different logins to seven different systems, especially at the local level.”
The new funding, he said, will allow Soci to make the platform even more comprehensive, both through acquisitions and integrations: “We want to connect into the CRM, the point-of-sale, the rewards program and take all that data and marry that to our search, social, reviews data to start to build a profile on a customer.”
Soci has now raised a total of $110 million. The Series D was led by JMI Equity, with participation from Ankona Capital, Seismic CEO Doug Winter and Khoury himself.
“All signs point to an equally difficult first few months of this year for restaurants and other businesses dependent on their communities,” said JMI’s Suken Vakil in a statement. “This means there will be a continued need for localized marketing campaigns that align with national brand values but also provide for community-specific messaging. SOCi’s multi-location functionality positions it as a market leader that currently stands far beyond its competitors as the must-have platform solution for multi-location franchises/brands.”